Monday, January 18, 2016

Decisions, Decisions. My Head Spins...

I have had lots of feedback from those in the know regarding a suitable rig.  Most everyone who has generously considered this project agrees that our boat should have two equal sails for ease of handling and for the size of the boat.  I want to defer to their expertise - for I have none as far as junk rig is concerned - but it does raise an issue or two.

For starters, the only way to accomplish a suitable two mast arrangement for this boat is to abandon the idea of tilting masts.  It could probably be done if I threw enough time and money at the situation but I don't want to deplete my resources.  So stepping fixed masts is the way to go.  The upside is that there is lots of info and literature out there to guide the way so I don't really have to invent anything.  Apart from sewing up another sail, I will have saved an enormous amount of work.

A high aspect ratio two masted rig will provide over 500 s.f. total of sail area.

But the bridges...

In previous posts I wrote about the area here where I live.  I want to ply the Fraser River, Harrison River and Harrison Lake as well as forays out to the Georgia Strait.  In the case of the Fraser the railway bridges are not an issue since they can be swung without having unreasonable wait times.  The railroad is talking about eliminating manned operation and doing it by remote control from Calgary but it will take just one unstoppable gravel barge doing some serious damage during freshette - or upon serious consideration of the potential of that happening for them to abandon the idea.  In any case there is quite enough commercial traffic on the Fraser to make timely bridge swings remain for now.

Getting up the Harrison River to Harrison Lake is another issue.  There is a railway bridge but they must send an operator to open it.  It takes a day or two notice and that's o.k for me.  But there is also a highway bridge and getting it swung can take weeks.  So I have to weigh the trouble and expense of tilting masts against the projected frequency of our trips up the Harrison.  My suspicion is that we will use the boat in Harrison for a while but will want to get out to the Strait once we are used to it.

Another issue I must consider is the aft mast position.  As I have drawn the boat (and have begun to build it) I can't see any other option but to place it in the galley at the foot of the companionway stairs.  I have lots and lots of room to accommodate it below as you can see in the drawing.

It does, however prevent a conventional sliding hatch.  I've come up with a solution though and it could be a hatch that slides off to one side.  I will need to think about coamings, a curved track and so forth, but I think it is quite doable.

All food for thought...


  1. Could you, perhaps, offset the mast slightly to one side of the centreline, and the sliding companionway to the other side?

    1. Maybe consider moving the mizzen fwd or aft to a bulkhd, offset to be supported by furnishings?

      If fwd, you end up with a narrow slot between sails. Six part fores'l sheets can 'straddle' the miz luff, alternating p&s deck blocks further aft (plan view deck layout determines how much). This clears the miz luff and allows a better lead for the fores'l sheets. Next option is double sheeting the fores'l.

      If aft, you're back into tabernacle land. In this case, the fores'l area could be increased and the miz decreased.

      I'm not sure why sails of equal size are particularly important? PANELS of equal size help with sail construction, but a yawlier ketch doesn't pose problems I can see.

  2. Having sailed some ten thousand miles or so in a boat with off-center masts I can attest to the fact that moving one or both of the masts will work out just fine.

    1. Hear, hear!

      SLACKTIDE's miz is offset to one side of the centered companionway (aft face of cockpit blkhd). Luvvit.

  3. RE Tabernacles in this proposal... I'd not give up on the fwd tab... one is better than none, especially as, once erect, a mast can be used as a boom spar for the other.

    A Thames Barge-ish option would be to deck step the stayed miz, raising and lowering with a winch. The stays limit the miz swing, a bit, but no more than in any gaff rig. Running backstays can supplement, if desired. You could lower fwd or aft, depending on set-up.

  4. One thought for considering rigs...

    You might consider a configurable rig... one that can be configured for specific task.

    For example, full, windward-capable rig for Lake and Straits; stripped rig (small, easily lowered sails, possibly with motor assist) for transiting the bridged portion of the Frasier. Laborious stepping and unstepping of the full rig (miz, in your present case) can be done at leisure at either end of the transit).

    The cost is less capability in the bridged stretches... but choosing transit windows narrow your needs. You could even press a boom into service as a short, light, easily dropped mast spreading only the deep reefed sail (last one or two panels) for downwind pull. Doesn't take much to move with the wind and/or current.

  5. Thanks everyone for your input. I've done some checking and those tall masts (i.e lamp posts or flagpoles) are super expensive. And I keep coming back in my mind of getting under those bridges. I'm presently working out another rig with a junk main, and a sprit sail fore and aft. The main is in the middle of the salon so it's not in the way of anything. I'll post soon...